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Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals rules that Florida inmates suffering from Hepatitis C are not constitutionally entitled to "state of the art" medical treatment

On August 31, 2020, in Hoffer v. Secretary, Florida Department of Corrections, No. 19-11921, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals vacated an injunction that had been entered by the District Court for the Northern District of Florida which had mandated that Florida prison officials treat all inmates with chronic Hepatitis C with direct acting antiviral (“DAA”) drugs.  The Eleventh Circuit characterized the DAA treatment as an expensive “state of the art” treatment.  The Eleventh Circuit concluded that in issuing the injunction the district court had erroneously evaluated the Department of Corrections Hepatitis C treatment history against a negligence “or perhaps even more lenient benchmark,” rather than against the “deliberate indifference” standard which applies to alleged Eighth Amendment violations involving failures to adequately address serious medical needs.  The Court stated: “[a]s we recently reiterated, ‘deliberate indifference is not a constitutionalized version of common-law negligence.’ Swain v. Junior, 961 F.3d 1276, 2020 WL 3167628, at *7 (11th Cir. June 15, 2020).’”  “’To the contrary, we (echoing the Supreme Court) have been at pains to emphasize that ‘the deliberate indifference standard . . . is far more onerous than normal tort-based standards of conduct sounding in negligence,’ and is in fact akin to ‘subjective recklessness as used in the criminal law.’” Id. (quoting, respectively, Goodman v. Kimbrough, 718 F.3d 1325, 1332 (11th Cir. 2013), and Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 839–40 (1994)).

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